Manetho was a third century B.C. Egyptian priest who wrote a history of
Egypt that included chronological information about Egyptian dynasties and
rulers. The work was widely circulated in ancient times and read by many
scholars of the time. Unfortunately, his original text has been lost and we
depend primarily upon inconsistent and garbled copies preserved by the
Christian writers Africanus and Eusebius (third and fourth centuries A.D.)
and the Jewish historian Josephus (first century A.D.) These manuscripts are
not only often quite inconsistent with each other, but some of the material
is at great variance with the archaeological record.
Nevertheless, it is obvious to many scholars who study the material that
underlying the Manetho copies is an original chronology that seems to have
had access to accurate and ancient historical records.
The present practice of dividing Egyptian history into 30 or 31
dynasties, from the first unification of Egypt at the beginning of Dynasty I
to the conquest of Alexander the Great, is generally referred to as the
Manetho or Manethonian Model, and it is based on the preservation of
Manetho's history as preserved in Africanus and Eusebius. Whether Manetho,
himself, followed this arrangement we can't say.
In my book, Manetho's Chronology Restored, I examine the various
copies of Manetho's text and, using the archaeological record, I attempt to
reconstruct Manetho's original chronology, showing that he did indeed rely
on accurate historical records and did record an accurate chronological
record of ancient Egypt. In the book I examine the many ways in which the
text was garbled in transmission, leading to the inconsistent and confusing
variants as presently preserved.
My interest in Manetho's chronology evolved from my analysis of the
Genesis chronology in Gen. 5 and 11 and my belief that it was based on
Egyptian king-lists. This required that I attempt to establish an accurate
account of Egyptian chronology and resolve a number of modest disagreements
among various scholars. My Manetho book grew out of that effort.